The Scoop and Score: Larry Scott is wrong for the final time

The Pac-12 does not deserve a playoff bid — they need to earn it.

“The Scoop and Score” is a column by Eli Kleinmann about college football.

Larry Scott’s tenure as Pac-12 commissioner will not be remembered kindly by fans, and on his way out the door he lived up to his legacy, once again embarrassing the conference.

Early in June, the College Football Playoff working group announced its recommendation that the playoff expand to 12 teams. As a part of the proposal, the top six conference champions would receive a bid into the playoff.

The move to include the six highest ranked conference champions caught some people by surprise because it was assumed that with six conference champions advancing to the playoff, the Power 5 conferences would automatically receive a bid every year.

While it is likely that the Pac-12 champion is one of the six highest ranked champions most years, the Pac-12 has often had its champion left out of the playoff. Over the first eight years of the playoff every Power 5 conference has reached the playoff at least four times, except for the Pac-12, which has only two playoff berths.

But instead of waiting for newly hired commissioner George Kliavkoff to handle the playoff expansion discussion, Scott decided to handle it himself. So on June 18, with less then two weeks remaining in his tenure, Scott decided that it was the perfect time to issue a public statement on the playoff expansion discussion in an attempt to advocate for the Pac-12 to receive an automatic bid.

“The Pac-12 supports expansion of the CFP and believes that the Autonomy Five champions should annually qualify for the CFP,” the statement read. “We greatly appreciate the work of the CFP sub-committee, as well as the thoughtful and productive discussions amongst the management committee this week in Chicago. We now look forward to reviewing the expansion proposal more thoroughly with our members, student-athletes, partners and other key stakeholders.”

Like almost every other decision Scott made throughout his time as commissioner, it went terribly wrong and the backlash came immediately.

On June 19, a day after Scott’s statement, Dan Wetzel wrote in his column for Yahoo Sports that the “P” in Pac-12 now stood for “Pathetic” in large part due to Scott and his actions. American Athletic Conference commissioner Michael Aresco issued statements that disagreed with Scott’s idea for Power 5 automatic bids.

The statements released by the other commissioners obviously tie in with their own self interest but the premise is correct: Automatic bids for the Power 5 conferences are bad for the sport, and contrary to Scott’s view, they would also negatively affect the Pac-12.

On the surface, the idea of an automatic bid seems like a positive for the Pac-12. After all, the conference only has two playoff berths over the first eight years of the four-team playoff. The automatic bid would give the Pac-12 an opportunity to win the title every season and would guarantee that no matter how bad of a season the conference had, at least one team would make the playoff.

Yet, the statement reeks of desperation and a lack of confidence. Scott undermined his own conference when he released that statement because he made it clear that the Pac-12 does not believe it will be a two-bid conference.

The Pac-12 should not settle for one team in the playoff each season. With six at-large bids, the conference is talented enough to have two teams in the playoff consistently.

The solution for the Pac-12 to regain its reputation as a premier conference is to win on the field. Wins equal playoff berths and playoff berths give Pac-12 teams a chance to make deep runs in the playoff. Deep playoff runs are how the Pac-12 gains more respect, recruits better talent, and gets two teams in the playoff on a yearly basis.

The reality is that Scott is wrong, again. The Pac-12 will not improve its reputation by being handed a playoff berth. It needs to go out and earn it on the field in order to show the whole country it belongs at the top.